By Patricia A. Hanigan, Owner of Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils & Balsamics, 20 Elm Street, Westfield NJ
In 2011 Tom Mueller, one of the leading authorities on Extra Virgin Olive Oil, released his book “Extra Virginity: The sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.” In it he revealed a world of deception where low quality oils and artificial coloring were being passed off as extra-virgin olive oils to the American public. In Europe, you would be breaking the law if you were mixing refined oils with Extra Virgin and labeling it 100% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Unfortunately, here in the states we do not have strict regulations and thus there are a lot of fraudulent bottled Extra-Virgin Olive Oils on the market. When companies taint the oil, the consumer loses the health benefits of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
How to choose good olive oil:
- Know your source. This was and is extremely important to me as a nutritionist when I was searching for my importer—I wanted to ensure that what I was selling was truly 100% Extra-Virgin and that my customers were receiving all the health benefits inherent in olives. I wanted to work with a company that conducted independent chemical analysis and one that was respected in the industry. Therefore, I chose Veronica Foods who does conduct routine testing and came highly recommended by Tom Mueller himself.
- There are two main factors to determine if an oil is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). It has to be less than 0.8 acidity and the taste. You should be able to taste fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency. It should have some positive taste notes of grass or artichoke. An oil may not be labeled extra virgin if there is any defect in tasting such as rancid or musty smelling.
- Olive Oil does not get better with age. Olive Oil has a two-year life span from the time of crush. Therefore, look for a crush date. Once opened you should consume the oil within 4-6 months.
- There are three things that will speed up the deterioration of Olive Oil—Air, heat, and light. Therefore, always buy your oil in a dark bottle and keep it closed tightly. Store it away in a cool dark cabinet and even though it looks nice, never store your oil on or near the stove. Remember, the better you treat your oil the longer it will maintain its health benefits.
So, as we head into the summer months go ahead and enjoy all the health benefits and delicious taste that Extra-Virgin Olive Oil has to offer on your salads, in your marinades, roasting, sautéing, grilling and of course, for dipping your favorite baguette.